OUR FIRST DANCE by June Kang

OUR FIRST DANCE

Daddyhood Journey with Doodle Thinking
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this debut guide for millennial dads, a young father shares creative doodles about his path toward parenthood.

“Doodle Thinking,” explains Kang, is a way to improve one’s thought process and creativity through the act of drawing, and his book aims to inspire other fathers to “visualize the story of how your little one positively changes your life.” (The author, a designer and illustrator with a 5-month-old daughter, doesn’t explain why his book is directed at fathers in particular and not parents in general.) He recommends sharing stories with children to expose them to other people’s points of view and thus build their empathy. He then offers some basic guidelines for externalizing one’s thinking through doodling, beginning with the instruction to “Draw a random shape.” He then supplies different ways to play with the artwork, such as by adding random shapes or physical features, such as eyes; the final step is to give it a “pithy title.” In a dozen doodles, each titled with a brief explanation, Kang tells his own story: how he met his child’s mother and how they fell in love; how having a baby has changed him; how he promises to protect and support his child; and his own fatherly advice. The style is appropriately playful, with curving lines and surprising intersections, including one in which the boundary between a dog and a cat becomes a fish. The colors are pleasingly muted yet warm, and the overall feeling is cheerful and humorous. At times, though, the pronouncements seem overconfident or unrealistic, such as advising a baby to “LIVE YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAM,” a recommendation that might result in a lot of unemployed cowboys and ballerinas if followed by every child. Similarly, some pieces of advice might have been rethought, such as “DON’T BE AFRAID TO MOVE FIRST, THINK LATER,” accompanied by a doodle of a horse running over a cliff. Also unrealistic, for many parents, is the rosy glow that the book casts over new parenthood with its emphasis on only positive changes. Perhaps children don’t need to know about the stresses of parenting, but whether positivity alone can increase their empathy is questionable.

An attractive, if flawed, board book that may still spark parental creativity.

ISBN: 978-1-5136-1699-5
Page count: 30pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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